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Mark 16,19-20 Ascension of Christ

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The Ascension and Exaltation of Jesus Christ

Mark 16:9-20


9When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week,

he appeared first to Mary Magdalene,

out of whom he had driven seven demons.

10She went and told those who had been with him

and who were mourning and weeping.

11When they heard that Jesus was alive

and that she had seen him,

they did not believe it.

 12Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form

to two of them while they were walking in the country.

13These returned and reported it to the rest;

but they did not believe them either.

 14Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating;

he rebuked them for their lack of faith

and their stubborn refusal to believe those

who had seen him after he had risen.

 15He said to them,

"Go into all the world and preach the good news

to all creation.

16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,

but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

17And these signs will accompany those who believe:

In my name they will drive out demons;

they will speak in new tongues;

18they will pick up snakes with their hands;

and when they drink deadly poison,

it will not hurt them at all;

they will place their hands on sick people,

and they will get well."

 19After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them,

he was taken up into heaven

and he sat at the right hand of God.

20Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere,

and the Lord worked with them

and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.


Today is the 1st Sunday after Easter,

and the scripture Lesson for today

is on the Ascension and Exaltation of our Lord Jesus.

I want to clarify that the actual Ascension of Jesus

       took place 40 days after his resurrection.

And so, in about 4 weeks, on Thursday May 21st,

       Which is the actual Ascension Day

       We will gather as a church to hear the testimonies

       Of our Baptism Candidates.

Last week we proclaimed in many languages

       that Jesus Christ is alive!

The tomb could not hold the Son of God

       in its grip for ever.

By the power of God

       Jesus was raised from the dead

       and now he now lives forevermore.

In the days following the resurrection

       Jesus appeared to many of his disciples

       and he showed himself to them

       as the risen Christ.

He showed himself to a doubting Thomas

       who had proclaimed that

       “Unless I put my hand in his side

       and unless I see the nail-marks in his hands

       I will not believe that he is alive.”

And Jesus said to him,

       “Thomas, you now believe because you have seen me.

       Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe.”

Jesus also walked with the two disciples

       on their way back to Emmaus.

They failed to recognize him until he broke the bread

       and gave thanks

       and disappeared before their eyes.

As we come away from Easter

       and we encounter the story of

       Christ’s Ascension into heaven,

       we are left with the question

       about the significance of the Ascension story.

Why is it important that Jesus was taken up to heaven

       after the resurrection?

Isn’t it enough for Jesus to die and rise again?

Why do we need to know that Jesus was taken up to heaven,

       where he sits at God’s right hand?

Let me first of all give a bit of an explanation of


The ascension of Christ

refers to that event in the life of our risen Lord

in which He was visibly taken from His disciples

up into heaven.

This event is recorded in many different passages

in the New Testament.

Mark 16:19 -  19After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them,

he was taken up into heaven

and he sat at the right hand of God.

Luke 24:51 - 51While he was blessing them,

he left them and was taken up into heaven.

John 3:13 - 13No one has ever gone into heaven

except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.

Acts 1:9–11 - 9After he said this,

he was taken up before their very eyes,

and a cloud hid him from their sight.  

10They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going,

when suddenly two men dressed in white

stood beside them.

11"Men of Galilee," they said,

"why do you stand here looking into the sky?

This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven,

will come back in the same way

you have seen him go into heaven.


The exaltation of Jesus Christ

refers to God’s act of giving the risen Christ

the place of honor and power at the right hand of God.

Phil. 2:9—“God has highly exalted him

and given him a name which is above every name.

That every knee shall bow

And every tongue confess

That Jesus Christ is Lord.”

The Exaltation is the event by which

       God gives recognition to Jesus, the Son,

       For completing the act of salvation for us,

And God gives Him dominion and Power

Over all His enemies.  

Already in the Old Testament

there are numerous forshadows of this event.

In Psalm 110:1 we read,

1 The LORD says to my Lord:
       "Sit at my right hand
       until I make your enemies
       a footstool for your feet."


Christ is victorious over sin and death.

And these mortal enemies

       are now in submission to the One

       who conquered death.

In Acts 7:55, 56 Stephen, the first Christian martyr,

in his dying moments,

was granted a vision of the exalted Christ.

He saw heaven open up before his very eyes

and the “Son of Man standing on the right hand of God”.

In the early years of the Christian Church

the apostles taught and preached

that Jesus ascended into heaven.

There are a number of things that we notice

about the nature of the ascension and exaltation of Christ.


1st It Was a Bodily and Visible Ascension.

The same Christ they had known in life,

who had healed the sick and the demon-possessed…

who had walked on water and stilled the storms…

This same Jesus who had been with them for forty days

to give them instructions on their Mission in the world…

and who promised them to send the Holy Spirit

to comfort them and to guide them…

This same Jesus was now visibly taken from them

in plain view

up into the heavens.

2nd The risen Christ Passed Through the Heavens.

Ephesians 4:10 says,

       10He who descended is the very one

who ascended higher than all the heavens,

in order to fill the whole universe.

This means that He overcame all those evil principalities

and powers that inhabit these heavenlies (Eph. 6).

 Just as the high priest passed through the vail into the holy place,

       so Christ passed through the heavens into the presence of God.


3rd He Took His Place at the Right Hand of the Father.

He was exalted to the right hand of God. 

Eph. 1:20—“God set him at his own right hand

in the heavenly places,

far above all principality and power.

What’s so important about the “right hand of God”?

The “right hand of God” indicates the place of Power

and Autority.

It is the place of intercession

which Christ now occupies (Rom. 8:34);

the place of highest power and richest blessing.

All the power belongs to Jesus Christ

who being in very nature God,

did not consider the power of God something to be grasped,

but he emptied himself of his divine nature…

he freely abandoned the riches of heaven

to come into this world as a Servant and not as a king.

And for that reason,

       God exalted him above all names

       in heaven and on earth.

He finished the work of redemption in total submission

       to the heavenly Father.

Christ Has Taken His Place at the Father’s Right Hand

as an expression of His ultimate victory

and Dominion over all that is against God.

Through him we now have

confident access to the throne of God’s grace.

Through him we also have the promise of eternal life.

The Exaltation of Christ also means that

He Has Been Made Head Of the Church.

That is to say,

everything is subject to Jesus Christ.

He is the Lord of the Church.

He is the Head and we are the body.

Martin Luther wrote:

In his life, Christ is an example,

showing us how to live;

in his death, he is a sacrifice, satisfying our sins;

in his resurrection, a conqueror;

in his ascension, a king;

in his intercession, a high priest.[1]


At the Ascension, then,

his disciples were shown a sign,

just as at the Transfiguration.

As C. S. Lewis put it,

“they saw first a short vertical movement

and then a vague luminosity – or a cloud

and then disappered before them.”

In other words,

Jesus’ final withdrawal from human sight,

to rule till he returns to judgment,

was presented to the disciples’ outward eyes

as a going up into heaven

to reign in Glory for evermore.

The message of the Ascension story is that  

“Jesus, the Savior, reigns as King!”[2]

For us as followers of Jesus,

       perhaps the most important message

       of the Ascension and Exaltation of Christ

       is the message of the Angels:

As the disciple where standing there speechles,

       jaws dropped,

       staring up into the sky as he was going

suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.

11"Men of Galilee," they said,

"why do you stand here looking into the sky?

This same Jesus,

who has been taken from you into heaven,

will come back in the same way

you have seen him go into heaven."

The promise of this text is that

Jesus will come back!

The risen Christ who is now at the right hand of God

       interceding on our behalf…

       ruling as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords

       will return to establish His Kingdom for all eternity.

And in His power we are able to

       stand against the temptation and sin

       that we face daily.

The fact that Christ is Lord,

       means that we live our lives

       in submission to His will.

The fact that Christ is King

       means that He is ultimately victorious,

       and that even in our own weakness we can come to Him

       and receive the strength

and the hope and the healing we need

for our daily life.

We have the promise that Jesus will come back again.

And in the meantime,

       we are not just to stand there idly looking up into the sky.

There’s work to be done.

The world needs to hear the message

that Christ is the Victor over death and sin.

People who are in bondage to sin

       who are in the grip of hopelessness and despair,

       need to hear that

       Jesus Christ has risen

       victorious over everything that is contrary to God.

And we, who believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

       we can claim the power and authority

       of the Lord of Life

       to follow Him in our daily lives

       as a resurrection people.

May God grant us grace and power

       to live as a resurrection people.

And may we glorify our Savior and Lord forever.



[1]William J. Federer, Great Quotations : A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Quotations Influencing Early and Modern World History Referenced According to Their Sources in Literature, Memoirs, Letters, Governmental Documents, Speeches, Charters, Court Decisions and Constitutions (St. Louis, MO: AmeriSearch, 2001).

[2]J. I. Packer, Growing in Christ, Originally Published: I Want to Be a Christian. Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, c1977.; Includes Index. (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1996, c1994), 64.

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